Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Thanksgiving Bacon Bourbon Burger Stuffing with White Castle Sliders

I have received monetary compensation from White Castle for the writing of this post. All opinions stated are my own and have not been influenced by or represent those of White Castle.

I've been doing "Friendsgiving" since before it was a buzzword. My very first Thanksgiving in Chicago was spent watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with my roommates while preparing an epic feast for all our orphaned city friends. It was the first time I'd ever spent Thanksgiving away from my mom, but also the first time I'd ever cooked a turkey on my own. It was thrilling and sad and joyful and raucous all at once. After that, I started a tradition of doing an all day Thanksgiving potluck for anyone who needed or wanted a place to be. I would spend the whole day cooking various side dishes and desserts so that anyone who had to work that day (a lot of my friends were employed in the service industry) could stop by for a plate of food, a glass of wine, and a hug.

These days, I like to carry on that tradition of cooking up a storm of turkey and carbs with friends as well as practicing my newest tradition; doing a virtual Thanksgiving with my mom, where we FaceTime and eat our traditional meal together while watching Netflix. What can I say? I'm a modern kinda gal!

While I can get pretty protective about my Thanksgiving menu choices, I've always thought that Friendsgiving is my time to get a little weird. What better way to work out a new recipe than to experiment on your friends and either revel in the gastronomic success, or laugh about the failure for years to come (nary a year goes by that I am not reminded about the "Caramel Carrots" incident)? This sort of experimentation has brought great new things onto my Thanksgiving table, like loaded baked potato mashed potatoes, chestnut and butternut squash risotto, and crispy parmesan brussels sprouts. But the one thing I've never been able to create a satisfactory version of myself is stuffing/dressing.

Recently, a very interesting email landed in my inbox. White Castle, sovereigns of the Slider Kingdom, wrote to me with a challenge: turn their iconic sliders into Thanksgiving stuffing. At first, I shook my head in bewilderment, but as I started to mull it over, I realized it was actually pretty genius! People put sausage in stuffing, right? So how different would seasoned ground beef be? The buns obviously would serve as an excellent bread base. And the signature grilled onions that top White Castle's burgers would definitely not be out of place. Everyone I talked about this idea with had the same reaction as me; initial skepticism, and then a dawning realization of just how good it could be. A few herbs, some chicken stock, and boom! Slider Stuffing!

My homeland of Arizona only got their first White Castle last month, so my first experience with the slammable tiny burgers was fittingly during an East Coast college road trip with friends. I have such fond memories of snacking on burgers as we drove into New York City for a weekend of fun, and it was those memories that flooded back to me as I plotted out my stuffing recipe.

White Castle's base recipe is pretty simple: 10-12 sliders (fresh from the restaurant or the grocery store freezer isle), sage, thyme, pepper, celery, and chicken stock. Not being a big fan of celery, I decided to swap that out for some diced green apple. I also decided to add some crisped bacon in honor of my breaded bacon recipe, which I literally have to make for every celebration or party. And what goes with bacon and apples? Bourbon! Thus was born the Bacon Bourbon Burger Stuffing, my newest Friendsgiving success story and the best stuffing I've ever made that didn't involve a box or a canister!

Want to try making this stuffing for your own holiday? Keep an eye on my Instagram, because later this week I'll be giving away a White Castle gift card to one lucky follower!

You can find White Castle's stuffing recipe here, or scroll down for my version!

Bacon Bourbon Burger Stuffing 

10-12 White Castle® Original Frozen Sliders, let to thaw for an hour before use (you can also use fresh, but make sure you ask for no pickles)
1 large green apple, cored and diced
6 strips thick cut bacon
1 1/4 teaspoons thyme, ground
1 1/2 teaspoons sage, ground
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, coarsely ground
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/4 cup bourbon
1/3 cup of halved pecans for garnish

Cut the bacon into small pieces and saute over medium high heat until crispy. Remove the pieces and drain them on a paper towel. In a large mixing bowl, tear the Sliders into small pieces and add the diced apple, crisped bacon, and seasonings. Add the chicken broth and bourbon slowly while tossing the ingredients. Add everything to a casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. Top with pecans and serve.

To stuff the ingredients into the cavity of the turkey, prepare ingredients as noted above, but reduce chicken broth to 1/4 cup and the bourbon to 1 tablespoon, then cook as you normally would. 

Makes about 9 cups (enough for a 10-to-12-pound turkey). Note: Allow 1 Slider for each pound of turkey, which will be equal to 3/4 cup of stuffing per pound.

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